Practice Like A Pro

Learn how to practice effectively and start seeing results

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Another key element worth your time on the range is your swing plane. It's one part of your swing that's hard to check, especially midround, when you don't have a training aid nearby to check and make sure you're routing the club on the right swing plane (not that you can use a training aid while playing anyway).

To check your plane, I like to use an alignment rod, placed parallel to my clubshaft at address. The goal is to swing the club above that rod and not get trapped under the correct plane or to deviate too far above it. Since it's practice time, I like to check my positions, too. This may mean stopping midway back or midway on the downswing in order to groove an on-plane golf swing.

Notice how, in the above photos, the clubshaft closely resembles parallel in each photo. That's a good sign that I'm dialing in on the right plane for my golf swing.

The difference between practicing and warming up is that, during practice, it's okay to be aware of the stroke, your body movements and so on. When you warm up, and even while you play, you need to shift to what's called a trusting mind-set, where you apply what you've worked on during your practice sessions to your actual golf game. Practicing drills will help you make positive swing changes; however, if you've had a difficult time taking it to the course, then you need to allocate more time practicing in trusting your mind-set. Practicing with trust requires you to "play" on the range as if you were on the course. This means visualizing different shots, whether they be straight drives, fades, draws and so on.

I like to encourage my students to put pressure on themselves and successfully call their shots five times in a row, that means, hitting a particular shot at a particular target five times in a row. For example, the first shot I want to hit is a drawing 5-iron. The next is a high hybrid, the third is a cut 7-iron, the fourth is a straight drive and the last is a flop shot. If I can execute all five with decent results, then, great. But if I mess one up, I have to start over with five more shots.

This type of practice helps me not only become a more creative player, but it engages the trusting mind-set, which is what you'll need to start playing better golf. It's also a fun game to play with a buddy. To do it, pick a target and a shot pattern for the shot. The target need not be a pin, but maybe a 10-yard radius from what you pick. From there, play a game of HORSE, just as you would with a basketball.


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